Niobium Facts

Niobium Facts
Niobium (Nb) has an atomic number of forty-one. This shiny white member of the metallic elements was originally called columbium, until its current name was adopted in 1950.
Interesting Niobium Facts:
In 1801, Charles Hatchett discovered a new element in a sample of the ore columbite, and named it columbium.
The ore had first been sent to England in the mid-18th century by the first governor of Connecticut, John Winthrop.
Independently, Heinrich Rose discovered in 1846 that tantalum ore included a second element, which he named niobium.
Nearly twenty years later, a series of experiments concluded that columbium and niobium were actually the same element.
Both names were actually kept in use until 1949, when niobium was chosen as the name for this element.
Its atomic symbol then changed from Cb to the currently used Nb.
There is only one known stable isotope of niobium, Nb-93.
There are a minimum of 32 known radioactive isotopes of niobium.
The most stable niobium radioisotope has a half-life of 34.7 million years.
The least stable, Nb-113, has a half-life of 30 milliseconds.
Niobium didn't have a commercial use until the 1900s.
It is used primarily for alloying with other metals.
One of the most common niobium alloys is ferroniobium, where it is combined with iron.
Niobium alloys also produce a highly-specialized steel that is used to stronger create gas pipelines.
The amount of niobium in that steel alloy is only 0.1%, but that small amount improves the structural strength of the steel dramatically.
Niobium alloys are also used in rocket and jet engines due to its superior strength at extremely high temperatures.
Niobium's superconducting properties make it ideal for use in alloying with tin and titanium to produce superconducting magnets for MRI machines.
It also has the largest magnetic penetration depth of any of the known elements.
Niobium is even used in jewelry making due to its low level of toxicity.

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